QUESTION 1: THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF SACRED DOCTRINE
To place our purpose within proper limits, we first endeavor to investigate the nature and extent of this sacred doctrine. Concerning this there are ten points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is necessary?
(2) Whether it is a science?
(3) Whether it is one or many?
(4) Whether it is speculative or practical?
(5) How it is compared with other sciences?
(6) Whether it is the same as wisdom?
(7) Whether God is its subject-matter?
(8) Whether it is a matter of argument?
(9) Whether it rightly employs metaphors and similes?
(10) Whether the Sacred Scripture of this doctrine may be expounded in
Article 1: Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?
Objection 1: It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of
any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above
reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Ecclus. 3:22).
But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosophical
science. Therefore any other knowledge besides philosophical science is
Objection 2: Further, knowledge can be concerned only with being, for nothing
can be known, save what is true; and all that is, is true. But everything
that is, is treated of in philosophical science---even God Himself; so
that there is a part of philosophy called theology, or the divine
science, as Aristotle has proved (Metaph. vi). Therefore, besides
philosophical science, there is no need of any further knowledge.
On the contrary, It is written (2 Tim. 3:16): "All Scripture, inspired
of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in
justice." Now Scripture, inspired of God, is no part of philosophical
science, which has been built up by human reason. Therefore it is useful
that besides philosophical science, there should be other knowledge, i.e.
inspired of God.
I answer that, It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be
a knowledge revealed by God besides philosophical science built up by
human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an
end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: "The eye hath not seen, O
God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for
Thee" (Is. 66:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to
direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for
the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should
be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths
about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that
man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God
such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that
after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man's
whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this
truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought
about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be
taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary
that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a
sacred science learned through revelation.
Reply to Objection 1: Although those things which are beyond man's knowledge may
not be sought for by man through his reason, nevertheless, once they are
revealed by God, they must be accepted by faith. Hence the sacred text
continues, "For many things are shown to thee above the understanding of
man" (Ecclus. 3:25). And in this, the sacred science consists.
Reply to Objection 2: Sciences are differentiated according to the various means
through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist
both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is
round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e. abstracting from
matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself. Hence there is no
reason why those things which may be learned from philosophical science,
so far as they can be known by natural reason, may not also be taught us
by another science so far as they fall within revelation. Hence theology
included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is
part of philosophy.
Article 2: Whether sacred doctrine is a science?
Objection 1: It seems that sacred doctrine is not a science. For every science
proceeds from self-evident principles. But sacred doctrine proceeds from
articles of faith which are not self-evident, since their truth is not
admitted by all: "For all men have not faith" (2 Thess. 3:2). Therefore
sacred doctrine is not a science.
Objection 2: Further, no science deals with individual facts. But this sacred
science treats of individual facts, such as the deeds of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob and such like. Therefore sacred doctrine is not a science.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xiv, 1) "to this science alone
belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected and
strengthened." But this can be said of no science except sacred doctrine.
Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.
I answer that, Sacred doctrine is a science. We must bear in mind that
there are two kinds of sciences. There are some which proceed from a
principle known by the natural light of intelligence, such as arithmetic
and geometry and the like. There are some which proceed from principles
known by the light of a higher science: thus the science of perspective
proceeds from principles established by geometry, and music from
principles established by arithmetic. So it is that sacred doctrine is a
science because it proceeds from principles established by the light of
a higher science, namely, the science of God and the blessed. Hence, just
as the musician accepts on authority the principles taught him by the
mathematician, so sacred science is established on principles revealed by
Reply to Objection 1: The principles of any science are either in themselves
self-evident, or reducible to the conclusions of a higher science; and
such, as we have said, are the principles of sacred doctrine.
Reply to Objection 2: Individual facts are treated of in sacred doctrine, not
because it is concerned with them principally, but they are introduced
rather both as examples to be followed in our lives (as in moral
sciences) and in order to establish the authority of those men through
whom the divine revelation, on which this sacred scripture or doctrine is
based, has come down to us.
Article 3: Whether sacred doctrine is one science?
Objection 1: It seems that sacred doctrine is not one science; for according
to the Philosopher (Poster. i) "that science is one which treats only of
one class of subjects." But the creator and the creature, both of whom
are treated of in sacred doctrine, cannot be grouped together under one
class of subjects. Therefore sacred doctrine is not one science.
Objection 2: Further, in sacred doctrine we treat of angels, corporeal
creatures and human morality. But these belong to separate philosophical
sciences. Therefore sacred doctrine cannot be one science.
On the contrary, Holy Scripture speaks of it as one science: "Wisdom
gave him the knowledge [scientiam] of holy things" (Wis. 10:10).
I answer that, Sacred doctrine is one science. The unity of a faculty or
habit is to be gauged by its object, not indeed, in its material aspect,
but as regards the precise formality under which it is an object. For
example, man, ass, stone agree in the one precise formality of being
colored; and color is the formal object of sight. Therefore, because
Sacred Scripture considers things precisely under the formality of being
divinely revealed, whatever has been divinely revealed possesses the one
precise formality of the object of this science; and therefore is
included under sacred doctrine as under one science.
Reply to Objection 1: Sacred doctrine does not treat of God and creatures
equally, but of God primarily, and of creatures only so far as they are
referable to God as their beginning or end. Hence the unity of this
science is not impaired.
Reply to Objection 2: Nothing prevents inferior faculties or habits from being
differentiated by something which falls under a higher faculty or habit
as well; because the higher faculty or habit regards the object in its
more universal formality, as the object of the "common sense" is whatever
affects the senses, including, therefore, whatever is visible or audible.
Hence the "common sense," although one faculty, extends to all the
objects of the five senses. Similarly, objects which are the
subject-matter of different philosophical sciences can yet be treated of
by this one single sacred science under one aspect precisely so far as
they can be included in revelation. So that in this way, sacred doctrine
bears, as it were, the stamp of the divine science which is one and
simple, yet extends to everything.
Article 4: Whether sacred doctrine is a practical science?
Objection 1: It seems that sacred doctrine is a practical science; for a
practical science is that which ends in action according to the
Philosopher (Metaph. ii). But sacred doctrine is ordained to action: "Be
ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). Therefore
sacred doctrine is a practical science.
Objection 2: Further, sacred doctrine is divided into the Old and the New Law.
But law implies a moral science which is a practical science. Therefore
sacred doctrine is a practical science.
On the contrary, Every practical science is concerned with human
operations; as moral science is concerned with human acts, and
architecture with buildings. But sacred doctrine is chiefly concerned
with God, whose handiwork is especially man. Therefore it is not a
practical but a speculative science.
I answer that, Sacred doctrine, being one, extends to things which
belong to different philosophical sciences because it considers in each
the same formal aspect, namely, so far as they can be known through
divine revelation. Hence, although among the philosophical sciences one
is speculative and another practical, nevertheless sacred doctrine
includes both; as God, by one and the same science, knows both Himself
and His works. Still, it is speculative rather than practical because it
is more concerned with divine things than with human acts; though it does
treat even of these latter, inasmuch as man is ordained by them to the
perfect knowledge of God in which consists eternal bliss. This is a
sufficient answer to the Objections.
Article 5: Whether sacred doctrine is nobler than other sciences?
Objection 1: It seems that sacred doctrine is not nobler than other sciences;
for the nobility of a science depends on the certitude it establishes.
But other sciences, the principles of which cannot be doubted, seem to be
more certain than sacred doctrine; for its principles---namely, articles
of faith---can be doubted. Therefore other sciences seem to be nobler.
Objection 2: Further, it is the sign of a lower science to depend upon a
higher; as music depends on arithmetic. But sacred doctrine does in a
sense depend upon philosophical sciences; for Jerome observes, in his
Epistle to Magnus, that "the ancient doctors so enriched their books with
the ideas and phrases of the philosophers, that thou knowest not what
more to admire in them, their profane erudition or their scriptural
learning." Therefore sacred doctrine is inferior to other sciences.
On the contrary, Other sciences are called the handmaidens of this one:
"Wisdom sent her maids to invite to the tower" (Prov. 9:3).
I answer that, Since this science is partly speculative and partly
practical, it transcends all others speculative and practical. Now one
speculative science is said to be nobler than another, either by reason
of its greater certitude, or by reason of the higher worth of its
subject-matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other
speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other
sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason,
which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of
divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of the higher worth of
its subject-matter because this science treats chiefly of those things
which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences
consider only those things which are within reason's grasp. Of the
practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further
purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the
good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of
this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as
to an ultimate end the purposes of every practical science are directed.
Hence it is clear that from every standpoint, it is nobler than other
Reply to Objection 1: It may well happen that what is in itself the more certain
may seem to us the less certain on account of the weakness of our
intelligence, "which is dazzled by the clearest objects of nature; as the
owl is dazzled by the light of the sun" (Metaph. ii, lect. i). Hence the
fact that some happen to doubt about articles of faith is not due to the
uncertain nature of the truths, but to the weakness of human
intelligence; yet the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the
highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained
of lesser things, as is said in de Animalibus xi.
Reply to Objection 2: This science can in a sense depend upon the philosophical
sciences, not as though it stood in need of them, but only in order to
make its teaching clearer. For it accepts its principles not from other
sciences, but immediately from God, by revelation. Therefore it does not
depend upon other sciences as upon the higher, but makes use of them as
of the lesser, and as handmaidens: even so the master sciences make use
of the sciences that supply their materials, as political of military
science. That it thus uses them is not due to its own defect or
insufficiency, but to the defect of our intelligence, which is more
easily led by what is known through natural reason (from which proceed
the other sciences) to that which is above reason, such as are the
teachings of this science.
Article 6: Whether this doctrine is the same as wisdom?
Objection 1: It seems that this doctrine is not the same as wisdom. For no
doctrine which borrows its principles is worthy of the name of wisdom;
seeing that the wise man directs, and is not directed (Metaph. i). But
this doctrine borrows its principles. Therefore this science is not
Objection 2: Further, it is a part of wisdom to prove the principles of other
sciences. Hence it is called the chief of sciences, as is clear in Ethic.
vi. But this doctrine does not prove the principles of other sciences.
Therefore it is not the same as wisdom.
Objection 3: Further, this doctrine is acquired by study, whereas wisdom is
acquired by God's inspiration; so that it is numbered among the gifts of
the Holy Spirit (Is. 11:2). Therefore this doctrine is not the same as
On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 4:6): "This is your wisdom and
understanding in the sight of nations."
I answer that, This doctrine is wisdom above all human wisdom; not
merely in any one order, but absolutely. For since it is the part of a
wise man to arrange and to judge, and since lesser matters should be
judged in the light of some higher principle, he is said to be wise in
any one order who considers the highest principle in that order: thus in
the order of building, he who plans the form of the house is called wise
and architect, in opposition to the inferior laborers who trim the wood
and make ready the stones: "As a wise architect, I have laid the
foundation" (1 Cor. 3:10). Again, in the order of all human life, the
prudent man is called wise, inasmuch as he directs his acts to a fitting
end: "Wisdom is prudence to a man" (Prov. 10: 23). Therefore he who
considers absolutely the highest cause of the whole universe, namely God,
is most of all called wise. Hence wisdom is said to be the knowledge of
divine things, as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 14). But sacred doctrine
essentially treats of God viewed as the highest cause---not only so far
as He can be known through creatures just as philosophers knew
Him---"That which is known of God is manifest in them" (Rm. 1:19)---but
also as far as He is known to Himself alone and revealed to others. Hence
sacred doctrine is especially called wisdom.
Reply to Objection 1: Sacred doctrine derives its principles not from any human
knowledge, but from the divine knowledge, through which, as through the
highest wisdom, all our knowledge is set in order.
Reply to Objection 2: The principles of other sciences either are evident and
cannot be proved, or are proved by natural reason through some other
science. But the knowledge proper to this science comes through
revelation and not through natural reason. Therefore it has no concern to
prove the principles of other sciences, but only to judge of them.
Whatsoever is found in other sciences contrary to any truth of this
science must be condemned as false: "Destroying counsels and every height
that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (2 Cor. 10:4,5).
Reply to Objection 3: Since judgment appertains to wisdom, the twofold manner of
judging produces a twofold wisdom. A man may judge in one way by
inclination, as whoever has the habit of a virtue judges rightly of what
concerns that virtue by his very inclination towards it. Hence it is the
virtuous man, as we read, who is the measure and rule of human acts. In
another way, by knowledge, just as a man learned in moral science might
be able to judge rightly about virtuous acts, though he had not the
virtue. The first manner of judging divine things belongs to that wisdom
which is set down among the gifts of the Holy Ghost: "The spiritual man
judgeth all things" (1 Cor. 2:15). And Dionysius says (Div. Nom. ii):
"Hierotheus is taught not by mere learning, but by experience of divine
things." The second manner of judging belongs to this doctrine which is
acquired by study, though its principles are obtained by revelation.
Article 7: Whether God is the object of this science?
Objection 1: It seems that God is not the object of this science. For in every
science, the nature of its object is presupposed. But this science cannot
presuppose the essence of God, for Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, iv):
"It is impossible to define the essence of God." Therefore God is not the
object of this science.
Objection 2: Further, whatever conclusions are reached in any science must be
comprehended under the object of the science. But in Holy Writ we reach
conclusions not only concerning God, but concerning many other things,
such as creatures and human morality. Therefore God is not the object of
On the contrary, The object of the science is that of which it
principally treats. But in this science, the treatment is mainly about
God; for it is called theology, as treating of God. Therefore God is the
object of this science.
I answer that, God is the object of this science. The relation between a
science and its object is the same as that between a habit or faculty and
its object. Now properly speaking, the object of a faculty or habit is
the thing under the aspect of which all things are referred to that
faculty or habit, as man and stone are referred to the faculty of sight
in that they are colored. Hence colored things are the proper objects of
sight. But in sacred science, all things are treated of under the aspect
of God: either because they are God Himself or because they refer to God
as their beginning and end. Hence it follows that God is in very truth
the object of this science. This is clear also from the principles of
this science, namely, the articles of faith, for faith is about God. The
object of the principles and of the whole science must be the same, since
the whole science is contained virtually in its principles. Some,
however, looking to what is treated of in this science, and not to the
aspect under which it is treated, have asserted the object of this
science to be something other than God---that is, either things and
signs; or the works of salvation; or the whole Christ, as the head and
members. Of all these things, in truth, we treat in this science, but so
far as they have reference to God.
Reply to Objection 1: Although we cannot know in what consists the essence of
God, nevertheless in this science we make use of His effects, either of
nature or of grace, in place of a definition, in regard to whatever is
treated of in this science concerning God; even as in some philosophical
sciences we demonstrate something about a cause from its effect, by
taking the effect in place of a definition of the cause.
Reply to Objection 2: Whatever other conclusions are reached in this sacred
science are comprehended under God, not as parts or species or accidents
but as in some way related to Him.
Article 8: Whether sacred doctrine is a matter of argument?
Objection 1: It seems this doctrine is not a matter of argument. For Ambrose
says (De Fide 1): "Put arguments aside where faith is sought." But in
this doctrine, faith especially is sought: "But these things are written
that you may believe" (Jn. 20:31). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a
matter of argument.
Objection 2: Further, if it is a matter of argument, the argument is either
from authority or from reason. If it is from authority, it seems
unbefitting its dignity, for the proof from authority is the weakest form
of proof. But if it is from reason, this is unbefitting its end, because,
according to Gregory (Hom. 26), "faith has no merit in those things of
which human reason brings its own experience." Therefore sacred doctrine
is not a matter of argument.
On the contrary, The Scripture says that a bishop should "embrace that
faithful word which is according to doctrine, that he may be able to
exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9).
I answer that, As other sciences do not argue in proof of their
principles, but argue from their principles to demonstrate other truths
in these sciences: so this doctrine does not argue in proof of its
principles, which are the articles of faith, but from them it goes on to
prove something else; as the Apostle from the resurrection of Christ
argues in proof of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15). However, it is
to be borne in mind, in regard to the philosophical sciences, that the
inferior sciences neither prove their principles nor dispute with those
who deny them, but leave this to a higher science; whereas the highest of
them, viz. metaphysics, can dispute with one who denies its principles,
if only the opponent will make some concession; but if he concede
nothing, it can have no dispute with him, though it can answer his
objections. Hence Sacred Scripture, since it has no science above itself,
can dispute with one who denies its principles only if the opponent
admits some at least of the truths obtained through divine revelation;
thus we can argue with heretics from texts in Holy Writ, and against
those who deny one article of faith, we can argue from another. If our
opponent believes nothing of divine revelation, there is no longer any
means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of
answering his objections---if he has any---against faith. Since faith
rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never
be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith
cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered.
Reply to Objection 1: Although arguments from human reason cannot avail to prove
what must be received on faith, nevertheless, this doctrine argues from
articles of faith to other truths.
Reply to Objection 2: This doctrine is especially based upon arguments from
authority, inasmuch as its principles are obtained by revelation: thus we
ought to believe on the authority of those to whom the revelation has
been made. Nor does this take away from the dignity of this doctrine, for
although the argument from authority based on human reason is the
weakest, yet the argument from authority based on divine revelation is
the strongest. But sacred doctrine makes use even of human reason, not,
indeed, to prove faith (for thereby the merit of faith would come to an
end), but to make clear other things that are put forward in this
doctrine. Since therefore grace does not destroy nature but perfects it,
natural reason should minister to faith as the natural bent of the will
ministers to charity. Hence the Apostle says: "Bringing into captivity
every understanding unto the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). Hence
sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those
questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason, as
Paul quotes a saying of Aratus: "As some also of your own poets said: For
we are also His offspring" (Acts 17:28). Nevertheless, sacred doctrine
makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but
properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an
incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as
one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith
rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the
canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made
to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only
those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to
hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way
in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in
their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and
written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."
Article 9: Whether Holy Scripture should use metaphors?
Objection 1: It seems that Holy Scripture should not use metaphors. For that
which is proper to the lowest science seems not to befit this science,
which holds the highest place of all. But to proceed by the aid of
various similitudes and figures is proper to poetry, the least of all the
sciences. Therefore it is not fitting that this science should make use
of such similitudes.
Objection 2: Further, this doctrine seems to be intended to make truth clear.
Hence a reward is held out to those who manifest it: "They that explain
me shall have life everlasting" (Ecclus. 24:31). But by such similitudes
truth is obscured. Therefore, to put forward divine truths by likening
them to corporeal things does not befit this science.
Objection 3: Further, the higher creatures are, the nearer they approach to
the divine likeness. If therefore any creature be taken to represent God,
this representation ought chiefly to be taken from the higher creatures,
and not from the lower; yet this is often found in Scriptures.
On the contrary, It is written (Osee 12:10): "I have multiplied visions,
and I have used similitudes by the ministry of the prophets." But to put
forward anything by means of similitudes is to use metaphors. Therefore
this sacred science may use metaphors.
I answer that, It is befitting Holy Writ to put forward divine and
spiritual truths by means of comparisons with material things. For God
provides for everything according to the capacity of its nature. Now it
is natural to man to attain to intellectual truths through sensible
objects, because all our knowledge originates from sense. Hence in Holy
Writ, spiritual truths are fittingly taught under the likeness of
material things. This is what Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. i): "We cannot
be enlightened by the divine rays except they be hidden within the
covering of many sacred veils." It is also befitting Holy Writ, which is
proposed to all without distinction of persons---"To the wise and to the
unwise I am a debtor" (Rm. 1:14)---that spiritual truths be expounded by
means of figures taken from corporeal things, in order that thereby even
the simple who are unable by themselves to grasp intellectual things may
be able to understand it.
Reply to Objection 1: Poetry makes use of metaphors to produce a representation,
for it is natural to man to be pleased with representations. But sacred
doctrine makes use of metaphors as both necessary and useful.
Reply to Objection 2: The ray of divine revelation is not extinguished by the
sensible imagery wherewith it is veiled, as Dionysius says (Coel. Hier.
i); and its truth so far remains that it does not allow the minds of
those to whom the revelation has been made, to rest in the metaphors, but
raises them to the knowledge of truths; and through those to whom the
revelation has been made others also may receive instruction in these
matters. Hence those things that are taught metaphorically in one part of
Scripture, in other parts are taught more openly. The very hiding of
truth in figures is useful for the exercise of thoughtful minds and as a
defense against the ridicule of the impious, according to the words "Give
not that which is holy to dogs" (Mt. 7:6).
Reply to Objection 3: As Dionysius says, (Coel. Hier. i) it is more fitting that
divine truths should be expounded under the figure of less noble than of
nobler bodies, and this for three reasons. Firstly, because thereby men's
minds are the better preserved from error. For then it is clear that
these things are not literal descriptions of divine truths, which might
have been open to doubt had they been expressed under the figure of
nobler bodies, especially for those who could think of nothing nobler
than bodies. Secondly, because this is more befitting the knowledge of
God that we have in this life. For what He is not is clearer to us than
what He is. Therefore similitudes drawn from things farthest away from
God form within us a truer estimate that God is above whatsoever we may
say or think of Him. Thirdly, because thereby divine truths are the
better hidden from the unworthy.
Article 10: Whether in Holy Scripture a word may have several senses?
Objection 1: It seems that in Holy Writ a word cannot have several senses,
historical or literal, allegorical, tropological or moral, and
anagogical. For many different senses in one text produce confusion and
deception and destroy all force of argument. Hence no argument, but only
fallacies, can be deduced from a multiplicity of propositions. But Holy
Writ ought to be able to state the truth without any fallacy. Therefore
in it there cannot be several senses to a word.
Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De util. cred. iii) that "the Old
Testament has a fourfold division as to history, etiology, analogy and
allegory." Now these four seem altogether different from the four
divisions mentioned in the first objection. Therefore it does not seem
fitting to explain the same word of Holy Writ according to the four
different senses mentioned above.
Objection 3: Further, besides these senses, there is the parabolical, which is
not one of these four.
On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xx, 1): "Holy Writ by the manner
of its speech transcends every science, because in one and the same
sentence, while it describes a fact, it reveals a mystery."
I answer that, The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to
signify His meaning, not by words only (as man also can do), but also by
things themselves. So, whereas in every other science things are
signified by words, this science has the property, that the things
signified by the words have themselves also a signification. Therefore
that first signification whereby words signify things belongs to the
first sense, the historical or literal. That signification whereby things
signified by words have themselves also a signification is called the
spiritual sense, which is based on the literal, and presupposes it. Now
this spiritual sense has a threefold division. For as the Apostle says
(Heb. 10:1) the Old Law is a figure of the New Law, and Dionysius says
(Coel. Hier. i) "the New Law itself is a figure of future glory." Again,
in the New Law, whatever our Head has done is a type of what we ought to
do. Therefore, so far as the things of the Old Law signify the things of
the New Law, there is the allegorical sense; so far as the things done in
Christ, or so far as the things which signify Christ, are types of what
we ought to do, there is the moral sense. But so far as they signify what
relates to eternal glory, there is the anagogical sense. Since the
literal sense is that which the author intends, and since the author of
Holy Writ is God, Who by one act comprehends all things by His intellect,
it is not unfitting, as Augustine says (Confess. xii), if, even according
to the literal sense, one word in Holy Writ should have several senses.
Reply to Objection 1: The multiplicity of these senses does not produce
equivocation or any other kind of multiplicity, seeing that these senses
are not multiplied because one word signifies several things, but because
the things signified by the words can be themselves types of other
things. Thus in Holy Writ no confusion results, for all the senses are
founded on one---the literal---from which alone can any argument be
drawn, and not from those intended in allegory, as Augustine says (Epis.
48). Nevertheless, nothing of Holy Scripture perishes on account of this,
since nothing necessary to faith is contained under the spiritual sense
which is not elsewhere put forward by the Scripture in its literal sense.
Reply to Objection 2: These three---history, etiology, analogy---are grouped
under the literal sense. For it is called history, as Augustine expounds
(Epis. 48), whenever anything is simply related; it is called etiology
when its cause is assigned, as when Our Lord gave the reason why Moses
allowed the putting away of wives---namely, on account of the hardness of
men's hearts; it is called analogy whenever the truth of one text of
Scripture is shown not to contradict the truth of another. Of these four,
allegory alone stands for the three spiritual senses. Thus Hugh of St.
Victor (Sacram. iv, 4 Prolog.) includes the anagogical under the
allegorical sense, laying down three senses only---the historical, the
allegorical, and the tropological.
Reply to Objection 3: The parabolical sense is contained in the literal, for by
words things are signified properly and figuratively. Nor is the figure
itself, but that which is figured, the literal sense. When Scripture
speaks of God's arm, the literal sense is not that God has such a member,
but only what is signified by this member, namely operative power. Hence
it is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of